There are few home additions that evoke as much pride and opulence as a swimming pool.
Swimming pools are something to be enjoyed and savoured – they are not a quick and easy way to add a few grand to your home’s value. Swimming pools can certainly make a visual statement, but despite their obvious aesthetic appeal, swimming is an extremely healthy form of exercise, both for mind, body and soul.
Regardless of whether you’re a property developer, renovator, or forever-home-owner looking to seriously upgrade a house, swimming pools obviously have some depth to them as far as home improvements are concerned.
There are many different ways to build swimming pools – they vary from simple low-spec, no-hassle designs to removable floor pools that are literally hidden beneath exterior or interior flooring.
This article will cover the cost of installing a new swimming pool and other common questions surrounding the building of a swimming pool.
Average Cost of Building a Swimming Pool
Swimming pool prices vary considerably, but by analysing quotes from 8 primary sources and 7 secondary sources including Clear Water Revival’s research into the average cost of a standard 11 x 4m swimming pool.
These prices are for standard outdoor pools with basic filtration kits, basic heating and covers. These will all be provided as standard with most UK pool builds – pool heating technology is actually very simple and filtration systems are completely essential.
|Type||6m x 3m (18m²)||8m x 4m (32m²)||10m x 4m (40m²)|
|Mid-Range Above-Ground||£1,000 - £3,000||£2,000 - £5,000||£5,000 - £10,000|
|Fibreglass/Resin One-Piece||£15,000 - £25,000||£20,000 - £45,000||£40,000 to £60,000|
|Vinyl Liner||£20,000 - £32,500||£35,000 - £60,000||£55,000 - £75,000|
|Concrete||£25,000 - £35,000||£45,000 - £65,000||£45,000 - £65,000|
|Steel||£25,000 - £35,000||£45,000 - £65,000||£60,000 - £90,000|
Extra Swimming Pool Costs
Here are some typical extra costs to consider when building a swimming pool.
|High-End Filtration System||+ £750 - £1,500|
|Small Garden Pool House||+ £5,000 - £10,000+|
|Swim Jet||+ £1,000 - £3,000|
|High-Efficiency Heating System||+ £2,500 - £5,000|
|Patio and Decking||+ £5,000 - £10,000+|
Types of Swimming Pools
There are probably 5 or 6 main types of swimming pools including above ground swimming pools.
Above Ground Swimming Pools
Above ground swimming pools include everything from your bog-standard paddling pool to high-end, timber-built above-ground swimming pools. These are semi-permanent and can look great, but they obviously don’t share the same hard-landscape aesthetic as inground pools.
Above ground pools also have poor thermal performance, although they can be heated with a heat pump or solar heating device.
Pros of Above Ground Swimming Pools
- The cheapest option
- High-end, great-looking above ground pools are still available
- Easy to install
- Can be heated with heat pumps
Cons of Above Ground Swimming Pools
- Requires regular maintenance to the exterior
- Non-permanent, low-spec option
Fibreglass or Resin One-Piece Swimming Pools
The cheapest of the hard-landscaped, inground pools is the fibreglass or other one-piece pool.
These are comprised of a singular fibreglass bath-like mould that is deposited into the ground in what is a fairly simple and quick procedure. Once the mould is laid, the pool simply needs to be plumbed with filters and filled.
Fibreglass pools are an excellent way to build a quick, budget pool that can be completed with steps and pool edging for a higher-end look. They are notoriously slippery, however.
Pros of Fibreglass or Resin Swimming Pools
- Made from one singular moulded piece
- Probably the cheapest inground option
- Lots of shapes and sizes available
- Easy to heat
Cons of Fibre or Resin Swimming Pools
- Limited sizes and customisation available
- Very slippery
Vinyl Liner Swimming Pools
Vinyl liner swimming pools use a singular pre-made vinyl liner that is attached to an inground frame embedded in the ground. Vinyl is soft and grippy, which are both great qualities for a pool liner. It also looks good and is easy to maintain.
Custom sizing is available – you won’t be limited to a selection of pre-made sizes like with a fibreglass pool. On the downside, vinyl is not puncture-proof, so sharp items should be kept away from the pool at all times.
Pros of Vinyl Liner Swimming Pools
- Made from vinyl liners attached to a frame or inground shell
- Durable but soft and grippy
- Not limited to pre-made sizes
- Can be repaired; easy to clean
Cons of Vinyl Liner Swimming Pools
- Not the most durable option
- Require careful maintenance
Concrete pools are extremely durable, customisable to virtually any size and shape, and can be finished with an array of high-end tiles or even mosaics. For high-end, hard-landscape inground pools, it’s tough to beat concrete.
Whilst concrete is easily the most permanent option – and thus total commitment is required – it offers the most scope and flexibility of any pool design material. It’s also grippy and easy to heat with excellent thermal qualities.
Pros of Concrete Pools
- Extremely durable and insulative
- Tons of design options available, e.g. tiling and mosaics
- Custom sizes and shapes
- Low maintenance
Cons of Concrete Swimming Pools
- Virtually impossible to remove once fitted
- Susceptible to staining and discolouration
Steel Swimming Pools
Steel swimming pools are rising in popularity. They’re built from strong steel panels that are welded into place. The result is an extremely durable pool that is resistant to any sort of cracking or erosion. The steel can be coated in a vinyl liner. Steel is also highly resistant to any sort of fungal growth and won’t stain, which is a common problem with other swimming pool materials.
Pros of Steel Swimming Pools
- Probably the most hardwearing option
- Low maintenance
- Looks great
- Custom sizing is easy
Cons of Steel Swimming Pools
- One of the more expensive options
- Require the service of specialist steel pool fitters (though they are becoming more popular)
Other Types of Swimming Pools
This is by no means an exhaustive list of swimming pool types. There are several other (largely niche) types of swimming pools. One exciting example is the moving-floor or underground pool that literally hides beneath the floor of say, a patio or basement room. Modern pool fitters are bringing these once extremely high-end innovative pools to a wider audience.
- Plunge pools
- Interior or basement pools
- Movable floor pools
- Infinity pools
- Hot tub and spa pools
Do Swimming Pools Need Planning Permission?
According to the Planning Portal, outdoor swimming pools rarely need Planning Permission as they’re considered a ‘garden project’. However, they advise that people check with the Local Planning Authority if the property is built on:
- Conservation area
- Designated land
- Greenbelt land
- Listed building
- National parkland
However, indoor swimming pools built in outhouses are usually subject to Permitted Development, meaning Planning Permission is not required, subject to certain conditions.
Read this guide on the Planning Portal for more information on Planning Permission for garden outbuildings.
Average Swimming Pool Size
Swimming pools come in an array of ‘standard’ sizes, most commonly:
- 6×3 metre pool (area of 18m²); an extra small pools for relaxing and paddling
- 8×4 metre pool (area of 32m²); medium-small pool for relaxing and very light swimming
- 10/11×4 metre pool (area of 40m² or so); probably the average-sized family pool for general use
Pools are generally a minimum of 1.5m deep, often 3m at the deep end, if there is one.
Smaller pools can be fitted with a swim jet which essentially turns them into a swimming treadmill, so don’t totally write off small pools for exercise purposes.
Swimming Pool Build Process
The entire process for building a swimming pool will take some 4 to 8 weeks, longer if outbuildings are also being constructed (e.g. in the case of indoor pools).
0 to 2 weeks: Planning and Drawings
Pool builds begin with a site survey. The pool builder will assess the space required and listen to your ideas. After, they’ll provide you with your options for materials and specifications. If needed, architectural drawings will be created for approval.
2 to 3 weeks: Excavation and Digging
The site will need to be fully excavated and dug. Roots, stones and other obstructions will need to be removed. Access to the site will be established. The bigger the pool, the bigger the dig and the longer it’ll take.
3 to 4 weeks: Frame and Foundations
Most pools require some form of frame and/or foundations to keep the soil in shape. Pool frames are usually made from steel and are inserted into the dig. The plumbing and electrical will likely be laid now and prepared for when the pool is inserted into place.
4 to 5 weeks: Concrete Pour/Pool Dropped Into Place
After the frame, plumbing and electrics are laid, the actual pool can be poured or manoeuvred into position. If the pool is concrete then this will take some time to cure before it can be painted or finished with tiles. The pool will be fully tanked against any water intrusion.
5 to 8 weeks: Painting, Finishing, Decking and Start-Up
Once the pool is in place it’s time to finish up by connecting plumbing and electrics, painting and finishing the interior of the pool and laying any surrounding decking. This can take a while depending on the complexity of the spec – high-end tiling and decking can take a couple of weeks to lay. After everything totally dries, it’s time to start everything up.
Heating Swimming Pools
Swimming pools can be heated with boilers that run from electricity or gas, air-source heat pumps or solar panelled heating systems. Some sources estimate that an 11x4m pool can cost around £5 per hour to heat during the colder months and considerably less in summer or spring.
New, sustainable and highly efficient swimming pool heating systems are entering the market.
How to Choose a Swimming Pool Contractor
Swimming pool designers should be specialists with a wealth of experience in their field. The Swimming Pool and Allied Trade Association (SPATA) is a professional body of swimming pool professionals. They provide a map of accredited SPATA pool contractors.
Always check for a strong reputation and photo portfolio of recent work.
To Sum Up
Professional swimming pool builds will rarely weigh in at much below £40,000 to £50,000 for a medium-small pool. For a larger 10x4m or 11x4m pool, you’re looking at a minimum of £50,000 assuming low-spec overall options.
Mid to high-spec 11x4m pools will probably cost in excess of £75,000. It’s obviously a large investment, but a serious one at that. Pools are becoming more popular in the UK too, so future demand is looking pretty good.
For some high-end home buyers, a swimming pool has strong appeal and is very likely to boost the value and appeal of homes that suit swimming pools well.
The UK is home to a strong selection of swimming pool builders that can cater to all projects ranging from high-end indoor pools with fancy outbuildings to smaller, budget pools suitable for small detached or even semi-detached houses.